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Time is running out: Use a Solution Starter to kickstart your idea

The Call for Code 2019 Global Challenge final submission date is nearing. July 29 is fast approaching and now is the time to form your team and submit your solution for the chance to win $200,000 USD and help make a difference. In 2018, IBM launched Call for Code, a global challenge to developers to use their coding skills to solve global problems. Last month, IBM gave the challenge a new, much grander platform – the United Nations. Together, IBM and the UN held a “Solution Starter” hackathon meant to create open source “starter kits” that will, hopefully, lead to some life-changing, life-saving tech solutions.

Developers from more than 150 nations have already built more than 2,500 apps aimed at helping people prepare for, and recover from, natural disasters as part of the Call for Code project. The 2018 winners, Project Owl came up with an IoT solution designed to connect victims and responders and have even deployed several live pilots, including one in Puerto Rico. With their success in mind, IBM took the project to a new level with the United Nations, in an attempt to solve even more problems related to natural disasters around the world.

Call for Code Geneva was held in early June in Geneva, Switzerland, by the United Nations Human Rights Office. Together, developers, business leaders, and subject matter experts worked together to create four ready-to-use platforms that do-gooders around the world can use to create additional new technologies.

The two-day event saw cross-functional teams work to solve four pressing challenges related to natural disasters:

  • Resilience and rebuilding
  • Flood and drought prevention and response
  • Humanitarian support
  • Human rights accountability

The hope was that the frameworks would inspire developers to create hundreds of new ideas to help communities around the world. The following is a brief overview of each:

  • Rebuilding The goal of this solution was to create a feedback loop that helps local governments, business owners, and community members access information about the disaster, resources, and preparation. This includes things like re-opening a business following a disaster, matching skills to volunteer opportunities, and finding help generating damage assessments and rebuilding support. The Solution Starter uses machine learning models and real-time information to provide users with the information they need to take action as soon as possible following a disaster. It can also help predict trends to support rebuilding in future scenarios.
    Find the Solution Starter on rebuilding here:
  • Drought prevention and response This solution has two parts: a mobile app that helps flood victims and another for authorities, which contains real-time data to help them prioritize their response. It also uses gamification to incentivize preparing in advance with evacuation plans. The mobile app, for instance, allows users to determine their risk and prepare a personal escape route. Their data flows into the dashboard for first responders so that they in turn can focus on vulnerable populations and send notifications as available.
    Find the Solution Starter on floods and droughts here:
  • Humanitarian aid This solution involves a mobile-first messaging system that helps identify people with limited mobility and helps them make informed choices about evacuation, as well as find loved ones at shelters. This solution assumes the user will have access to a mobile phone or network with electricity, but it’s very easy to use. Before a disaster occurs, a mobile app profile is created and is used to target alerts. During the event, the vulnerable person responds by confirming whether they need help or not. If so, the victim’s need will be matched to a catalog of public or private services that can help.
    Find the Solution Starter on humanitarian aid here:
  • Accountability This app allows people impacted by human rights violations to anonymously report in any language and have their message securely sent to the United Nations observers for investigation. The observers can use the information to help, but also to detect patterns of rights violations in certain areas. The anonymous info and trends would also be used to encourage other impacted groups to speak up about violations they may also be encountering.
    Find the Solution Starter on protecting human rights here:

Each of the kits noted above includes information on relevant IBM Cloud services such as Speech-to-Text at Edge, Natural Language Understanding, Tone Analyzer, open source technologies (Secure Scuttlebutt, Manyverse, Apache Hadoop), and other resources to encourage further ideation and discussion.

Call for Code Geneva is a huge step forward in creating technologies specifically for disaster relief and saving lives. To get involved in this year’s call, or simply to learn more, visit the Call for Code site.

You still have time!

As of today, July 19, you still have 10 days until submissions close on July 29. You might think that’s not nearly enough time to come up wiht an idea and finesse it, but that’s where you’re wrong! These Solution Starters are a perfect way to get inspired and expand on these basic ideas that have been built for you. What will you build? Which Solution Starter will be the base for your solution? Tweet me @danielnewmanUV or @IBMDeveloper with #CallforCode to let the world know that you’ve accepted the call to help disaster recovery.

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Daniel Newman is a Principal Analyst with Futurum Research and is the CEO for the Broadsuite Media Group. Connect with him on LinkedIn.